Public views wanted on possible cutbacks in Bridgend County

As local authorities continue to deal with reduced budgets caused by a decade of austerity, Bridgend County Borough Council is considering cutbacks to services including street cleaning, CCTV, pest control, town centre events, adult learning, education support services, as well as closing one of its three community recycling centres.

During the last four years, Bridgend County Borough Council has saved £27m by cutting some popular services and reducing council staff numbers by 400 which has included making significant cutbacks in senior management.

A further £35m saving must be made by 2023, and the council is warning that the situation is now reaching ‘breaking point’ due to reduced funding from central government.

Today, the local authority has launched its annual budget consultation ‘Shaping Bridgend’s Future’ which lays out the tough decisions that need to be made ahead of setting its budget for 2020-21. Local residents are being urged to get involved and share their views on potential budget savings which include:

  • Moving to a reactive street cleaning service where street cleaners will only deal with prioritised complaints about fly tipping and bin emptying rather than carrying out regular cleaning. This would save £270k per year.
  • Either completely closing one of the three community recycling centres (in Maesteg, Tythegston and Brynmenyn) to save £100k per year, or closing all three sites for one day a week to save £50k a year.
  • Removing CCTV coverage which is currently used to watch traffic, prevent crime and help create safer communities. There are currently 92 cameras across the county borough, and the service costs approximately £327k a year.
  • Charging a fee for pest control services which are currently free e.g. rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs.
  • Saving £23k per year by no longer giving financial support to events in Bridgend town centre such as street markets, Wartime Bridgend and the classic car show.
  • Saving £35k per year by no longer supporting the Bridgend Business Forum.
  • Reconfiguring the council’s homelessness service (but still providing support for homeless people) to save £100k.
  • Saving £133k per year by no longer funding adult community learning courses, or saving £65k per year by reducing the service to offer less courses.
  • Saving £307k per year by no longer providing specialist cognition and learning services to support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in mainstream primary and secondary schools. Alternatively, £61k could be saved by training staff in schools to deliver some of these services.
  • Changing the way that one-to-one support is given for children with additional learning needs in primary schools. This could save £144k per year.
  • Stop providing escorts on board taxis and minibuses that are transporting less than eight pupils to primary schools. This would save £35k per year.
  • Further developing the way that day services are provided by moving to a community hub model in four areas of the county borough. Doing so would not only save £180k but would ensure that people can receive a more local service that suits their needs better.
  • The council is also proposing to generate money by offering telecare and mobile response services to the general public rather than just people who are known to social services. It is estimated that doing so could generate £150k of income per year. Views are also invited on other potential money making options such as commercial investments.

Everyone who completes the ‘Shaping Bridgend’s Future’ survey will also be asked for their opinion on possible council tax rises to help protect services, and have their say on which services should be prioritised when making long-term budget decisions.

 The Leader, Cllr Huw David, said:

“We have already made multi-million-pound savings as we account for huge cuts in the funding we receive, and have done everything we can to prevent residents from having to experience the full impact of cuts that have been widely reported elsewhere in the UK.

“The coming year is going to be the toughest yet, and there are no easy options to save millions of pounds. Until central government decides to stop pummeling local government and instead provides us with adequate funding to provide the services that our residents deserve, we will have to keep making some of the hardest decisions that we have ever faced in order to set a balanced budget which meets our legal responsibilities.

If one service is prioritised, it means that another service has to lose out, so we need local people to work with us and tell us which services they want us to protect.”

In 2019-20 it will cost Bridgend County Borough Council almost £270.8m to provide a full range of public services for 142,000 residents. The council’s budget is made up of government funding, council tax and business rates. Council tax accounts for about 29 per cent (£79m) of the local authority’s net budget and doesn’t even cover the cost of the budget that goes straight to the county borough’s 59 schools.

The ‘Shaping Bridgend’s Future’ consultation can be completed online before the survey closes on Sunday 3 November. Paper copies can also be requested by emailing the council’s Consultation and Engagement Team at [email protected] or calling 01656 643664.

Everyone who completes the survey can choose to enter a free prize draw to win either two tickets to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall on Thursday 14 November, a family ticket for four to see the ‘Snow White’ pantomime at the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl on Saturday 14 December, or one year’s Halo Leisure membership.

Local residents can also respond to the consultation at one of the community engagement workshops that have been organised.

Thursday 12 September Aberkenfig Library 9:30am to 12:30pm
Saturday 21 September Maesteg Library 9:30am to 13:00pm
Monday 23 September Bridgend Life Centre 16:00pm to 19:00pm
Thursday 26 September Bettws Centre 14:00pm to 16:00pm
Monday 30 September Sarn Life Centre 9:30am to 12:30pm
Saturday 5 October Porthcawl Library 9:30am to 13:30pm
Thursday 10 October Pyle Life Centre 14:00pm to 16:00pm
Tuesday 24 October Pencoed Library 11:00am to 13:00pm
Monday 28 October Ogmore Valley Life Centre 16:00pm to 19:00pm
Tuesday 29 October Garw Valley Life Centre 15:00pm to 17:00pm